Incorporating extra storage space into a portable Bluetooth speaker is nothing new for EcoXGear, but their EcoJourney offers the most room yet. The 65W amplifier that serves its three drive units also makes it one of the most powerful speakers of its size. And while its list price of $199.99 USD is already a lot lower than that of any competitor, I found it for sale online for as little as $178.
In the box
In addition to the speaker itself, the EcoJourney’s colorful box (with useful handle) contains not the usual quick-start guide but a thorough User Guide in easy-to-read type, a shoulder strap, a USB-A-to-USB-C cable, and an AC adapter. The adapter is welcome—most manufacturers now omit this, forcing customers to buy their own.
The EcoJourney itself is rock-solid. Though I don’t recommend this, I felt I could toss it around without fear of breaking it. And its Ingress Protection Code specification of IP67 means it should be protected from dust and complete immersion in 1m of water for up to 30 minutes.
The EcoJourney comes only in black plastic, but the accents (rings around the drivers, etc.) can be ordered in gray or blue. It weighs 7.2 pounds, and measures 11″W x 9.75″H x 6″D. With its triangular speaker-grille overlays and flexible carrying handle, its look is neo-retro industrial, like something you’d see in a 1950s sci-fi film such as Forbidden Planet.
There’s something going on on almost every surface of the EcoJourney. Inset into the rear panel is a smallish EcoXGear logo. On the front, at the two top corners, are retractable loops for hooking on to the shoulder strap. The bottom has rugged, rubbery, nonslip feet. The handle at the top folds flat to either side, and powerful clasps lock together the speaker’s two halves to ensure its waterproof rating.
The real action is on the front. Large and small metal grilles respectively hide a 5.25″ woofer and a 3.7″ midrange with coaxial 1.5″ tweeter. These are rimmed in blue or gray plastic (your choice), with triangular accents in the same color. Above the large grille is an embossed EcoXGear logo, and below the smaller grille are the controls.
Surrounding a central, circular Play/Pause pushbutton are four rectangular buttons: volume up and down, and next and previous track. Above these is a row of four more buttons, from left to right: Power, Bluetooth pairing, Microphone (for pairing the EcoJourney with your device’s voice assistant), and EcoCast, which allows you to connect with up to 50 additional EcoXGear speakers that also support EcoCast. To the left of and above these controls, green LEDs indicate on/off and the amount of battery charge, and a blue LED indicates the status of Bluetooth pairing.
The speaker’s interior is accessed by releasing the clasps. Inside is another panel with a USB-C charging jack, the master power switch, and a 3.5mm auxiliary input jack. Below the large speaker baffle are small slot ports that improve the bass response, EcoXGear CEO Greg Fadul told me. The interior storage space is large, but the driver baffles make it irregular in shape. I could fit in a 12″ can of soda and a number of smaller items—my phone, keys, and inhaler, as well as maps, other documents, and a T-shirt.
A full charge of the EcoJourney’s 20,000mAh eight-cell lithium battery takes 10-12 hours. EcoXGear claims that a full charge provides 50+ hours of playing at a 50% volume level, or ten hours at maximum volume. The 65W amplifier produces a specified sound-pressure level of 110dB over a frequency range of 125Hz-18kHz.
The EcoJourney’s User Guide cautions the user to be sure to turn on the master power switch before using. It also cautions that the clasps can cause injury if not released correctly. The EcoJourney’s heavy battery is positioned just behind the front panel: that half of the speaker will flop forward when unclasped. After opening and closing the clasps five or six times, I felt comfortable with the process. They felt secure, and they kept the interior and contents dry. Although the EcoJourney is waterproof and dustproof and floats, EcoXGear recommends that you first do a trial run: Put a piece of paper in the storage compartment, close the clasps, and fully submerge the speaker for a while. If, when you reopen the compartment, the paper is dry, you know that your EcoJourney will protect your accessories.
Though a shoulder strap is provided, I preferred to carry the EcoJourney by its handle; dangling from the strap, it tended to bang against my side. I’m glad both options are provided.
Bluetooth connection was nearly instantaneous. Once the EcoJourney had paired with my device, I never had to repeat the process. The controls all worked smoothly, requiring just the right amount of pressure: easy to press, but providing enough resistance that I could feel a definite click as confirmation of connection.
The EcoJourney’s feet kept it stable on flat surfaces—a good thing for a portable that pumps out so much bass. The auxiliary input let me connect an old non-Bluetooth CD player, and the charging port gave my USB devices amazingly quick charges. Of course, the storage compartment must be open when any of these jacks are in use, which means the speaker is not then waterproof.
Given the EcoXGear EcoJourney’s power and driver complement, I wasn’t surprised to hear that it could play loud—very loud. Easily the most powerful speaker I’ve heard anywhere near its size, its voicing was even from top to bottom. Highs were detailed without being brittle, the midrange was clear and produced solid aural images, and the bass was punchy, not loose. If you want a portable speaker that can produce musical impact while also sounding very good at lower volumes, the EcoJourney should be an ideal speaker for a pool or tailgate party, or for any outdoor use where stereo separation is unimportant. (The EcoJourney is a monaural speaker.)
“Jealous,” from Nick Jonas (16-bit/44.1kHz FLAC, Island), has thumping drum and bass throughout, and is loaded with overdubs, synths, and vocals. Through the EcoJourney, I could easily hear Jonas’s voice over all the organized racket. “Jealous” also had real clarity through the EcoXGear, which also produced enough bass, even when used outdoors, that it was good to dance to.
After all the splashing is done, the Japanese lanterns are lit, and you’re sitting there nursing a favorite brew, maybe you’ll want something quieter—such as “Why Did I Choose You,” from the Charlie Haden Quartet West’s The Art of the Song, with singer Shirley Horn (16/44.1 FLAC, Verve/Amazon Music HD). The sweet upper strings of Alan Broadbent’s orchestral arrangement introduce a soulful tenor-sax solo by Ernie Watts, and then Horn enters, her unmistakable, beautifully breathy voice soaring as if on a cloud. A lengthy piano bridge from Broadbent eventually leads to a duet by Horn and Watts. Throughout, Haden’s double bass provides solid support and focus. The EcoJourney did a good job of reproducing the lush, warmly tinged sound of Broadbent’s Grammy-winning arrangements for this album—it was the antithesis of hard or brittle.
While the EcoJourney seems designed primarily for rock, country, pop, jazz, and rap, I nonetheless tried a classical track. The last movement of Saint-Saëns’s Symphony No.3, “Organ,” begins with full organ chords followed by a beautiful, lyrical melody played quietly on strings and accompanied by delicate piano arpeggios. The entire orchestra and the organ again take up the theme, this time with resounding cymbal crashes. This performance, with organist Daniel Chorzempa and Peter Maag conducting the Bern Symphony Orchestra (16/44.1 FLAC, Maestoso/Amazon Music HD), captures all of the composer’s nuances of orchestration with great accuracy. The EcoJourney missed the organ’s lowest pedal notes, but made up for them with an otherwise very full sound. Though the EcoJourney couldn’t play the lowest bass notes, it flirted with them while providing solid midbass for an overall warm sound.
The EcoXGear EcoJourney is a unique speaker that combines good sound with a good bit of dry storage space. It can accompany you on outdoor adventures, or provide music for a pool or tailgate party. With it you can charge a phone—handy in an emergency—or pair it with other EcoCast speakers for really big sound. It’s waterproof, dustproof, and sturdy as a rock. And for all it is and does, the price is extremely attractive. If you’re planning an outdoor journey, it could be a perfect companion.
. . . Rad Bennett
- Source: Apple iPod Touch (fourth generation)
EcoXGear EcoJourney Bluetooth Speaker and Dry Box
Price: $199.99 USD.
Warranty: One year, limited.
Grace Digital Inc.
11895 Community Road
Poway, CA 92064
Phone: (866) 446-0961, (858) 748-6343
Fax: (858) 408-3336